‘Breakthrough’ COVID Cases in US

Day 386: Stay Safe Minnesota

Breakthrough cases in COVID-19 infected cases are rare but are in line with expectations because the approved vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective but not 100% foolproof.

Breakthrough” COVID-19 cases are defined as positive Covid-19 test results received at least two weeks after patients receive their final vaccine dose, represent 0.008% of the fully vaccinated population.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected again. “Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 — 7% — of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization. It’s the first indication from CDC of how effective the vaccine is in real life — and the first indication the vaccines do not protect completely against severe disease and death,” write Ben Tinker and Maggie Fox in the CNN Health.

In The Wall Street Journal, Robbie Whelan writes, citing federal health officials, that “such cases are in line with expectations because the approved vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective but not 100% foolproof. They are a reminder that even vaccinated people are at risk and should continue to take precautions such as masking and social distancing in many circumstances.”

CDC has developed a national COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough database where state health department investigators can currently enter, store, and manage data for cases in their jurisdiction.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source: CNN)

Vaccine breakthrough infections were reported among all people of all ages eligible for vaccination. However, a little over 40% of the infections were in people 60 or more years of age, according to the CDC.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told at a recent White House briefing that such cases of lapses in full protection appear to be very rare and resulting deaths appear to be primarily among frail elderly people who have other health problems.

There’s nothing there yet that’s a red flag. We obviously are going to keep an eye on that very, very carefully. But I don’t see anything that changes our concept of the vaccine and its efficacy.

Dr Anthony Fauci, at a White House Briefing (source: NPR News)

Dr. Francesca Torriani, an infectious disease researcher at the University of California San Diego, who has studied breakthrough infections among health care workers told “It would also appear the rare infections that occur are less severe, so it would also protect us against severe disease, which is great.”

During the same White House briefing, Dr Rachelle Walensky, Director of CDC said “I would encourage people to continue, once they’re vaccinated, to use all the prevention measures that we’ve been talking about when they’re outside their home, including masking and distancing and whatnot. And all of that should be active in the workplace.”

“Assuming you take those prevention measures in the office place and outside the home, I think you’re very safe in the home.”

Dr. Kawsar Talaat, an infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN “The likelihood of these ‘very rare‘ infections depends on how much virus is circulating within a community.

“That’s the whole point of getting to herd immunity. Because once we get to a point where enough people in the community are vaccinated, then if somebody develops Covid in that community, the people around them are protected and it’s much harder for that person to spread the virus to somebody else, and therefore the transmission stops.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Apr 17, 9 a.m.) 264,499,715 doses have been distributed and 205,871,913 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of April 15) a total of 3,617,216 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Apr 17) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 554,536 (out of 8,804,249 tested) with 7,005 deaths.